Pharmacy support staff involvement in, and attitudes towards, pharmacy-based services for drug misusers

Jennifer Scott, Adam J Mackridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Objective: This study aimed to examine involvement of pharmacy support staff in delivering services to drug misusers; to quantify their participation in related training; and to examine relationships between attitudes, practice experience and training.
Methods: The setting was a random sample of 10% of UK community pharmacies (n = 1218) using a postal questionnaire with two reminders. Pharmacy managers were used as gate-keepers to access pharmacy support staff, which included dispensary technicians and medicines counter assistants.
Key findings: Six hundred and ninety (56.7%) pharmacies responded, and 1976 completed questionnaires were returned from 610 (50.1%) pharmacies. A further 80 (6.6%) opted out. Three-fifths of staff had no input into decisions about whether their pharmacy provided services for drug misusers. One-third working in pharmacies that provide services were uncertain or negative about whether their pharmacy should do so. Staff were more involved in needle exchange (91%) and decisions to sell needles (95%) than supervising consumption of therapies (64%) or handing out dispensed medicines to drug misusers (73%), suggesting managers perceive needle exchange and sales as appropriate roles. Three-quarters of those working in pharmacies that provide services had not received any training to do so. Those who had undertaken training and who worked in pharmacies that provided services had significantly more positive attitudes compared to those had not undertaken training but also worked in pharmacies that provided services, or those who had undertaken training but did not provide services.
Conclusions: Pharmacy support staff were involved extensively in drug-misuse services but the majority had not been trained to do so. Attitudes were more positive in those who were involved in service provision and had undertaken training. The findings suggest a need for more extensive training and for further exploration of the views of managers on appropriate roles, particularly the clinical versus supply nature of needle exchange. This is timely given the recent publication of guidelines by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on needle exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-332
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • support staff
  • questionnaire
  • drug misuse
  • community pharmacy
  • needle exchange
  • attitudes


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